Wolves Week 12
Doing a week by week run down of the Wolves is a great way to realize how long the NBA season is. I'm glad I didn't decide to do it with the Wild because that would only reinforce my opinion about their season. First up this week are the Mavs. Followed by a visit from the two triple double scorers. Harden on Wednesday & Westbrook on Friday. Seems like the makings of an exciting or depressing week.
There are several potential A topics from last nights game. The roar of the TimberKat. The flash of the Spaniard. The injury to Zach Lavine, who by the way really deserves a nickname of his own. That the team could barely put away what is a BAD Dallas Maverick team. I'll get to each of those but the thing I'm most interested in was the game that MiniSota had.
I make no disguise of the fact that I root for Tyus. He's local. He's went to Duke. He was the last draft pick by Flip Saunders for my favorite NBA team. And when he gets a chance to play he makes the most of it. That he totaled over 11 minutes of court time last night is a surprise to me. I would have guessed it being closer to 7 minutes but the difference doesn't affect my take on it. 7 points in winning time and realistically the team needed every one of his buckets.
Some will probably use this as fodder for trade speculation. I don't have any insight into the odds of that happening but think it would be a mistake. When Rubio went down, he stepped in. When Lavine walked off last night, he came in and performed. On a team where the bench is so awkwardly utilized, and on the thin side, throwing away a guy who can game any time would be a mistake.
But moving on. Dallas is bad. I like the Mavs, first because of Cuban's ownership. He just throws money at it like the game that it should be for billionaires, in contrast to some of the local owners... Second though is Dirk and that should be self explanatory. Right now though, that team is bad and it should have been a route last night.
The Wolves lead from wire to wire, thanks in large part to a 20 point first quarter by Towns. Finishing with 14 points over the final three quarters may be part of why the Mavericks managed to hang around. A greater piece of that pie is that no one really picked up the "slack" that KAT let up. So the Mavs closed in some during the second quarter and matched with the pups over the third & fourth.
Ricky came as close as anyone of stepping up his game in over all four quarters. 13 points, which is all he needs to score, 15 assists, 5 rebounds & 5 steals. Everyone shut up with the talk that he needs to go. Those kinds of performances are aberrations yet can happen any given night in the flow of the action.
Last but not least, well maybe least, is the injury to Bounce Alpha. It was announced that Lavine went out with a hip bruise, which doesn't sound serious so I hope that's all it is. Give him a few days off & he'll be fine, hopefully!
First Ave Block Party
I don't know who that team was last night. It's like those scenes from Space Jam where the good players have their talent taken away, but in reverse. I was firmly of the opinion that the Rockets would take a step back this year but Harden has been a revelation. Whether their style can succeed in the playoffs is yet to be answered but as it did in Phoenix, so it's working now.
Somehow the Timberwolves managed to lead for practically the entire game, if not actually the whole way. Closing it to one point at the half means they could have briefly gained the lead. Minnesota didn't waver though and managed a double digit win.
Tyus filled in late on Monday. Wednesday it was Brandon Rush & Shabazz who came in and more then compensated for the absent Zach Lavine. I didn't hear an exact answer so I'm still left wondering why Rush hasn't gotten more court time with how good he was. The 12 points were a nice addition but he also grabbed some boards, made a few key passes & even blocked a pair of shots. I can't get a grip on how Thibs' player rotations work because one game someone will break out impressively. The next time out they won't get a minute. Maybe it boils down to as simple a reason as he just doesn't like going more then 7 or 8 players deep. That was the knock on him in Chicago and may well still be. That's not to say that the Wolves bench is a masterpiece but it certainly seems better in todays light then it has previously.
More then the final score, any one individuals performance though or a question about playing time, I came away from last night's game loving the defensive mentality. Holding Houston to 105 is a sign of it. Ending the game with 8 blocked shots between 5 different players is another. Even Thibs seemed pleased by it during his post game presser.
We all want their to be a cathartic moment for this team which propels them into 5, 7 or 10 years of quality play. Maybe it will happen, maybe this will be just that moment when the calendar reads bigger numbers. But I'm skeptical. Let's enjoy a quality victory but pump the brakes on making it more then it is, until more has happened!